Shot at appellate clerkship

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Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:55 am

I'm looking for those with personal knowledge of federal appellate clerkship hiring, preferably in fly over circuits, to tell me whether I am a strong enough candidate to make applying worth it.

I graduated from UT in 2015 with honors, and near the top 10% but not quite there. My gpa was a 3.79. I was an editor on a non-law-review journal and received a highest grade award.

Before attending UT, I started at a ttt school where I ranked in the top 6% of the class.

After law school, i clerked for a federal district judge for a year. I now work in a smaller law firm doing mostly insurance defense. Before that I worked in another small firm doing municipal defense litigation. I garnered a lot of federal court experience in this latter position.

Thanks in advance.

BlackAndOrange84

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:38 am

You're resume isn't ideal (which you already know), but you're competitive, especially because of your D.Ct. experience and work experience. Biglaw would probably have been better in the abstract, but the work experience is still helpful. Apply broadly and you've got a decent shot, particularly if you've got good LORs from your judge and a senior attorney from your firm. So yes, it's worth your time to apply. You're not guaranteed, but you're definitely in the running.

lavarman84

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:58 pm

A few questions:
1. Does your judge have any connections? How is your relationship?
2. Will your judge write a strong LOR?
3. You went to UT. Do you have Texas roots? Do you practice in Texas?

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:06 pm

Op here:

To Laverman:

1. My relationship with my judge is fine, but not super close or anything. He said he would always serve as a reference for me. However, he does not, to my knowledge, have close relationships with judges on the appellate circuit (5th).

2. I have a great letter of rec from my judge already drafted and ready to go.

3. My roots are actually in Louisiana. Without saying too much to put myself, I clerked on a Louisiana district court, and currently practice in Louisiana.

lavarman84

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:38 pm

I won't quote in case you edit later. I think you'll have a shot in the 5th. UT should help with the Texas 5th Circuit judges and your roots should help with the Louisiana judges. Just apply broadly. Outside the 5th, you'll have a shot if you apply broadly, but it's hard to say how strong of one. If you have any connections, use them. Having a strong LOR from a D. Ct. judge is a big boost.

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mjb447

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby mjb447 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:03 pm

Definitely worth applying - your work experience and (especially) district court clerkship will go a long way.

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:14 pm

You are competitive and have a realistic shot if you keep at it. Apply to the 5th (because Ut) and also judges in cities that are seen as a little less glamorous. Be sure to ask yourself if you’re prepared to live in such a city for the resume line though—its a personal decision with pros and cons.

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:47 pm

I'd like to dispute some TLS received wisdom. I clerked for a borderline-feeder judge in a popular city, and was pretty surprised by the not-so-great credentials of those who clerked for some of the lesser-known, often senior, judges on the Circuit. A clerk for one judge told me that they interviewed 6 of the 8 applicants for that judge's three slots (paper only, not on OSCAR, so a bit tougher to learn about). Many clerks were not even top of their second or third tier schools.

All of this is to say that your credentials far surpass those of other clerks I know. You just need to be willing to apply broadly and apply to senior judges. Of course the experience may vary even more with senior judges than with active judges, and I wouldn't clerk for one who is 90 years old, but a number of my friends have had great experiences with them.

Edit: I realized that I should have emphasized the luck and persistence that is required without top-flight credentials. If you can find former clerks from your school (my school had a list), and reach out to them, you can put that in your cover letter and make it clear you know something about the judge and are serious about living in the location.

lavarman84

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'd like to dispute some TLS received wisdom. I clerked for a borderline-feeder judge in a popular city, and was pretty surprised by the not-so-great credentials of those who clerked for some of the lesser-known, often senior, judges on the Circuit. A clerk for one judge told me that they interviewed 6 of the 8 applicants for that judge's three slots (paper only, not on OSCAR, so a bit tougher to learn about). Many clerks were not even top of their second or third tier schools.

All of this is to say that your credentials far surpass those of other clerks I know. You just need to be willing to apply broadly and apply to senior judges. Of course the experience may vary even more with senior judges than with active judges, and I wouldn't clerk for one who is 90 years old, but a number of my friends have had great experiences with them.

Edit: I realized that I should have emphasized the luck and persistence that is required without top-flight credentials. If you can find former clerks from your school (my school had a list), and reach out to them, you can put that in your cover letter and make it clear you know something about the judge and are serious about living in the location.


I'd say that's quite the exception.

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Many clerks were not even top of their second or third tier schools.


I know it's not the point you were making (or at least I hope it wasn't), but it is possible that a COA clerk may have not graduated from the top of their second or third tier law school class and . . . wait for it . . . still somehow be able to produce high quality work and survive their clerkship just fine. I should know...I'm one of these plebeian former clerks, but never did figure out if some clerks ever made it to Crete with their wings of feather and wax. OP, luck and persistence as related above will help you as much or more than your background, but it is without a doubt a crapshoot process.

lavarman84

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Many clerks were not even top of their second or third tier schools.


I know it's not the point you were making (or at least I hope it wasn't), but it is possible that a COA clerk may have not graduated from the top of their second or third tier law school class and . . . wait for it . . . still somehow be able to produce high quality work and survive their clerkship just fine. I should know...I'm one of these plebeian former clerks, but never did figure out if some clerks ever made it to Crete with their wings of feather and wax. OP, luck and persistence as related above will help you as much or more than your background, but it is without a doubt a crapshoot process.


Absolutely not. Anyone reading the opinions you helped draft could tell that it wasn't written by a Harvard or Yale superstar. :wink:

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby QContinuum » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Many clerks were not even top of their second or third tier schools.


I know it's not the point you were making (or at least I hope it wasn't), but it is possible that a COA clerk may have not graduated from the top of their second or third tier law school class and . . . wait for it . . . still somehow be able to produce high quality work and survive their clerkship just fine. I should know...I'm one of these plebeian former clerks, but never did figure out if some clerks ever made it to Crete with their wings of feather and wax. OP, luck and persistence as related above will help you as much or more than your background, but it is without a doubt a crapshoot process.


I don't think anyone ITT has argued that candidates with lower grades/from lower-ranked schools are incapable of being good clerks. The problem is that CoA clerkships are very limited, and the supply of willing clerks greatly exceeds demand. Judges thus filter candidates based on perceived prestige.

The same is true of the legal market more generally. The median student at UT doesn't land BigLaw not because the median UT student is necessarily any less capable than a bottom-quarter NYU student, but because slots are limited and firms filter by grades and school rank.

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Many clerks were not even top of their second or third tier schools.


I know it's not the point you were making (or at least I hope it wasn't), but it is possible that a COA clerk may have not graduated from the top of their second or third tier law school class and . . . wait for it . . . still somehow be able to produce high quality work and survive their clerkship just fine. I should know...I'm one of these plebeian former clerks, but never did figure out if some clerks ever made it to Crete with their wings of feather and wax. OP, luck and persistence as related above will help you as much or more than your background, but it is without a doubt a crapshoot process.



You're right, this wasn't the point I was making. I really liked these clerks and I'm sure they did good work. My point was that OP's credentials exceed those of other clerks on my circuit, and it's therefore worth applying really, really broadly, and to senior judges in particular.

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Re: Shot at appellate clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:31 pm

One thing to keep in mind as well is that there are certain anomalous lower-ranked schools that somehow do as well as t-14's with clerking. For example, University of Memphis is one block away from the federal building, which hosts 3-4 6CA judges and 3-4 district court judges: in any given year 1/3-1/2 of the clerks went to U of M.



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